DEMOMOBILE - Reporter's notebook

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA (09/19/2003) - At first, you think maybe it's the California sunshine that incubates these wireless industry entrepreneurs who have 6 minutes apiece at the annual Demomobile show to persuade a group of jaded investors and reporters that their product is the next big thing.

Then you learn that:

- Radixs Pvt. Ltd. is from Singapore and wants to challenge Microsoft Corp. and Palm Inc. with a new mobile operating system.

- Microwave Photonics Inc. originated in Britain - not known for its sunshine - as the result of 10 years and US$20 million worth of research by British Telecommunications PLC.

- FireTide Inc. is a wireless LAN equipment vendor in Honolulu, where one imagines "mobility" to be walking to your canvas deck chair on the beach.

- Xybernaut Corp. develops its custom-built, rugged, Windows XP-embedded handhelds - which look like they could almost bounce off a concrete floor - in Virginia.

Plenty of the 38 companies invited to Demomobile (a show organized by IDG Executive Forums, a part of Network World) this year actually do come from California. But the point is that creating ideas and translating of them into workable software and hardware is something like a universal human instinct.

After watching the Demomobile presentations, which range from deft to almost embarrassingly amateurish, it's apparent that the creative instinct is different from the survival one.

Besides the companies highlighted last week, several others showed products worth noting.

Aeroprise Inc., Mountain View, Calif.

Mobile Gateway

This software, billed as a mobile workflow program, is designed to let companies reorganize a back-end application, such as help desk software, and tailor it for mobile devices.

The software includes a gateway program to handle requests from mobile end users, a "personalization console" that lets them pick what they want to see on the device and an "application adapter" that feeds the console with specific features from a given application.

An adapter for the Remedy Help Desk application lets end users work with the personalization console to change the sequence of items appearing on a trouble ticket just by selecting options shown by the Aeroprise software. A smartphone user will choose one sequence, a PDA user another.

Version 3.0, just released, includes a feature that lets the software notice a new device, or version of a device, when logging on. The software then can read information from the device and automatically create a configuration file for it.

The Mobile Gateway is available as separate components or a single package. A package of its five main components starts at $25,000. Price varies with the number of users.

Aventail Corp., Seattle

EX-1500 SSL VPN Appliance

The Aventail box sits in a data center rack to create a Secure Sockets Layer connection that lets remote workers access corporate data from any device with a Web browser, over any network. It eliminates the need in traditional IP Security-based VPNs to download and maintain a VPN client on remote notebooks and handhelds. The software in the EX-1500 lets network managers set up very specific policies for what end users can access. The appliance makes use of whatever existing authentication system, such as RADIUS, that a company already has.

Aventail is adding code to the EX-1500 to recognize and work with various software applications that run on the client device, such as anti-virus software and asset management programs. When an end user logs on, the EX-1500 now can discover details about the client - whether a recent virus scan has been run, other protective programs are up to date, or the user is logging on from an insecure public Internet kiosk. Based on that data, the policy manager modifies the end user's access privileges.

The EX-1500, featuring the new client controls, starts at about $14,000.

Fiberlink Communications Inc., Blue Bell, Pa.

Dynamic Network Access (DNA) Platform

DNA is a hosted service for authenticating remote users and applying to them a detailed set of access policies, regardless of their device or network connection.

Network managers log onto DNA via a Web browser. They use an array of screens to see statistics on remote access, such as the quality of the network connections and how often a user is connecting. Other screens let managers create or change access policies for all users, groups or specific users. DNA tracks policy infractions, so managers can see what problems are surfacing, how often and what users are involved.

A company might block use of instant messaging, for example, or require DNA to confirm that a notebook is running the latest version of a personal firewall or anti-virus program.

The new service will be available in November. Pricing is not yet set.

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